Tiger looks better than ever in return at Masters

By Associated PressApril 9, 2010, 4:57 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods, the person, is a work in progress.

Tiger Woods, the golfer, is the same as ever.

Maybe better.

Coming back from a five-month layoff, his marriage and reputation shattered by revelations of serial infidelity, the world's greatest golfer stepped up to the first tee at Augusta National and picked up where he left off.

He hit a booming shot down the right side of the fairway – 'One of the best drives I've ever seen him hit,' swing coach Hank Haney said – and it seemed as if Woods had never been away.

By the third hole of the Masters, he had a birdie on his card.

Five holes later, he calmly rolled in an eagle and broke out that patented fist pump for the first time.

Then at No. 9 came one of those signature Tiger shots, a wicked 5-iron hooked around the pine trees, a line drive that skidded to a stop just above the hole to set up an improbable birdie. He sidestepped out into the fairway to see where it landed, then strolled up to the green and knocked in a 15-foot putt.

'I got into the flow of the round early,' Woods said. 'Got into the rhythm of just playing, making shots, thinking my way around the golf course.'

He made it sound so easy.

'I was just pretty calm all day,' Woods said. 'I felt this is what I can do. This is what I know I can do. Just go out there and just play. I expected to go out here and shoot something under par.'

That he did, probably exceeding even his own high expectations.

Woods made another eagle at the 15th – the first time he's ever had two of those in a single round at Augusta – and finished up with a 4-under 68, the lowest opening score he's ever posted at the Masters and two strokes behind the surprising leader, 50-year-old Fred Couples.

Woods pledged to control his emotions on the course, yet there was little change. He twirled his club after a good drive, slammed it after a few bad ones. He pumped his fist when the putts fell, sunk to his knees when they failed to drop – including a birdie attempt on the 16th that slowed his climb up the leaderboard.

As always, he complained about not making enough putts.

'Otherwise, it could have been a very special round,' Woods said.

After heavy overnight showers, the second round began Friday on a cool, sunny morning with temperatures expected to rise into the lower 70s – a forecast that's expected to hold through the weekend.

Woods, playing again with K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar, was scheduled to tee off at 10:35 a.m.

Couples, who played a practice round with Woods on Monday, sauntered along in tennis shoes and no socks and shot a 66. It was his best score ever at the Masters and made him the oldest player to be the outright leader after the opening round.

'I never really thought about what I was shooting,' said Couples, who already has won three times this year on the Champions Tour. 'It was a fun day for me. I still think I can play, and if I putt well I've got to be some kind of factor in my mind.'

Tom Watson, at 60 the oldest player in this Masters and who came within a whisker of winning last year's British Open, had a bogey-free round of 67. That left him tied with Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, PGA champion Y.E. Yang and Choi.

'My goals were to play better than I've played in the last five or six years, and I achieved that – for the first round,' said Watson, whose magical run at Turnberry ended when he missed an eight-foot putt on the last hole of regulation and then lost a playoff. 'I'm playing pretty well. I've said I have to play better than 90 percent to be successful on this golf course.'

Still, this day was always going to be about Woods.

He had not hit a competitive shot in 144 days, since winning the Australian Masters on Nov. 15 for his 82nd victory around the world. A four-time Masters champion, he has never come to Augusta National with so much uncertainty – about his game, and mostly how fans would respond to a player whose impeccable image had been shattered by tawdry tabloid tales of sex.

The patrons were on their best behavior, as expected at the most polite tournament in golf. Augusta National can't control the perimeter of the course, however, and a couple of planes toted banners that poked fun at Woods – one for his pledge to get back to Buddhism ('Bootyism,' the banner said), another mocking claims he needed therapy as a sex addict.

On the ground, the gallery was mostly positive, with a few exceptions.

'He doesn't have the right character and integrity to represent golf,' Larry Isenhour said. 'That's why I came out early this morning to applaud Jack Nicklaus.'

Nicklaus, the six-time Masters champion, joined Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter. The two longtime rivals hit the ceremonial tee shots to open the Masters, and chairman Billy Payne said, 'The 2010 Masters is now officially begun. Have fun.'

They did.

Clouds moved in quickly and kept the sun from baking out the greens, and some of the hole locations allowed for birdies. The low scores weren't a surprise, only the names next to them.

Couples and Watson were the biggest surprises, of course, but Mickelson came to the Masters without having finished in the top five all year. He looked as comfortable as ever, particularly on the back nine with an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch that briefly put him atop the leaderboard at 67.

'I do love this place,' Lefty said. 'I don't have to be perfect. I can miss a shot and still recover. It relaxes me when I go down Magnolia Lane.'

Westwood, Europe's top player, had only broken 70 twice in his Masters career until running off seven birdies for a 67.

They'll all have to contend with Woods, it seems.

He'll be looking to set up a weekend no one could have envisioned, the kind that ends early Sunday evening with Woods, perhaps, slipping on a green jacket for the fifth time.

'Why play if you don't think you're going to win,' he said.

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Garcia among bubble boys keeping playoff hopes alive

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 12:34 am

Sergio Garcia gave himself a chance to keep his perfect FedExCup Playoffs record going with his rally Friday at the Wyndham Championship.

D.A. Points moved into position to make a historic leap into the postseason.

And Johnson Wagner dunked his last shot of the day from long range to keep his hopes of making the playoffs alive.

But the day didn’t end nearly as well for Tyrone Van Aswegen’s FedExCup hopes.

Van Aswegen didn’t do himself any favors trying to hold on to the 125th spot on the FedExCup points list. He missed the cut by a shot.

Only the top 125 advance to The Northern Trust and next week’s start to the playoffs.

Van Aswegen wasn’t alone among “bubble boys” missing the cut. No. 122 Jhonattan Vegas, No. 123 Seamus Power, No. 124 Martin Piller, No. 126 Chad Campbell and No. 127 Robert Garrigus all failed to make the weekend.

Garcia is among 13 players who have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs every year since they began in 2007, but his run was in jeopardy of ending starting the week. He’s 131st on the FedExCup points list

With a 65 Friday following his opening round 66, Garcia is in more than a great position to advance. He’s in position to win the Wyndham. He is tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. The day ended with Garcia projected to move up to 118th on the FedExCup points list.


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Current FedExCup points list


“I'm just going to try to keep building on the things that I did well these first two days,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. Like I said at the beginning of the week, if I have a great weekend, then it will be great. If I don't have a great weekend, it will still be great because

I'll get to rest.”

Points started the week 214th on the FedExCup points list. With back-to-back 64s, he trails only Brandt Snedeker going into the weekend. He’s projected to move to 81st in points. Nobody has ever started the Wyndham Championship that far back in points and qualified for the playoffs. Davis Love III was 186th when he won and advanced in 2015.

Wagner, 136th on the FedExCup points list, went to spectacular lengths Friday to keep his playoff hopes alive. He was outside the cut line until holing his 153-yard approach at the last.

Bill Haas, who is among those 13 players to have qualified for the playoffs every year, started the week 150th in points. He can keep his perfect playoff record going with a big weekend. He shot 68 Friday to make the cut. He’s tied for 52nd in the tournament.

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Points two back after missing 16 of 17 cuts

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:54 pm

What’s the better story come Sunday?

Brandt Snedeker turning his 59 in the opening round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship?

Or D.A. Points winning after missing 16 cuts in his last 17 starts?

They’re both scripts in the works at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Points, who has been struggling this season with a herniated disc that causes numbness in his fingers, has broken through his season-long funk to shoot back-to-back 64s. He starts the weekend in second place, two shots behind Snedeker.


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“It's been difficult,” Points said of his slump. “It's been hard on my family. I was in this position a couple years ago, and I clawed my way back and won in Puerto Rico.

“I had that big downturn, and I clawed my way out of it just to find myself way back down in another deep hole again.”

Points, 41, is a three-time PGA Tour winner. He won his first title playing alongside Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2011 and two years later won the Shell Houston Open. He slipped into a three-year funk after that, before rebuilding his game and winning the Puerto Rico Open last year.

“Hopefully, this is my way of starting to claw back out,” Points said.

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New 'Mr. 59' Snedeker needs Day 2 rally to keep Wyndham lead

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

Brandt Snedeker struggled coming off the emotional high that comes with shooting 59, but it didn’t stop him from rallying Friday to try to turn his historic round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Snedeker caught fire on the back nine at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to take the lead going into the weekend.

With a 3-under 67, Snedeker moved to 14 under overall, two shots ahead of D.A. Points (64).

“I knew it was going to be tough” Snedeker said. “It wasn't going to be the same way it was yesterday. Kind of battling the emotion of everybody pulling hard for you, wanting to see you do it again. So the front nine was disappointing.”

A day after becoming the ninth player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 tournament round, Snedeker opened with three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine. He said it was a struggle to begin anew.


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“You hear people telling you every two seconds, `Mr. 59,’ or saying how cool it was to watch it,” Snedeker said. “Phone's still blowing up this morning, guys in the locker room are still talking to me about it. So, yes, totally on your mind. You can't ignore it. You can't try to forget about it. Hardest thing is trying to get back into a rhythm.”

Snedeker did with an eagle and two birdies on the back nine. Rolling in a 30-foot eagle putt at the 15th gave him back the lead he lost earlier in the round.

“To see that go in was huge,” Snedeker said.

Not every player to break 60 on the PGA Tour has gone on to win. In fact, Snedeker is looking to become just the fifth player to do so.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.


Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.